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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

356                               LIFE   OF
and was even shared by "William von Hurnboldt
when he first heard of the plan. He could not
deny the restraint and prosaic tone which the
vicinity of the government and of the civic relations
might create ; he feared to see the liberty of univer-
sity life circumscribed, and did not think it advisable
that the Impetuous,, ardent youths should be con-
strained by the formality of official life ; finally, he
objected to the pressure which the immediate neigh-
bourhood of the government miglit exercise over the
noble freedom of the teacher and of learning*.
Important grounds must have existed to conqxier
the aversion Humbolclt felt for the shadow of undue
control which njight eventually be brought to bear
upon the young university. One reason unqxtestion-
ably was the hope that the government might be
"benefited by the contact with intelligence and the
freshness of academic life, and that the communica-
tion between the chiefs of science and the higher
members of the administration might have an elevat-
ing influence on the latter.
The mode of execution was the next consideration.,
and Hurnboldt invited the most eminent men. of the
day., Wolf, Fichte, Schleiermacher, and others, to
assist him with their advice. The plans of Wolf seem
to have been the most practical, those of Fichte and
Schleiermacher were profound and learned, but more
admirable in theory than practicable. Fichte also
laid too much weight on the form where the spirit
was required, and men with mind and the power to
impart it.
Humboldt's plan was to assemble a galaxy of talent
and science on one spot; he wished all these powers
to operate quite uncontrolledly, and expected more
from this measure than from all exterior rules.
He does not seem to have been of the mind to
change more than was urgently necessary in such well-
established institutions as the German high schools,
fiere no thorough reform was needed, as in the ele-
mentary schools and in the gymnasiums. All that was
required was an abundance of new strength, and